Charles Wanyoike Rubia
Charles Wanyoike Rubia

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday lashed out at politicians who accuse his administration of stifling democracy and freedom of speech.

Instead, Uhuru challenged the political class to seize the expanded democratic space to help his government tackle corruption, tribalism and other social ills bedevilling the country.

The President spoke during the burial of first African Nairobi Mayor Charles Rubia at Karigu-ini Primary School in Kandara, Murang’a county.


He insisted that the Jubilee government has continued to expand the democratic space while entrenching freedom of speech.

“Nobody has been stifled from speaking freely. Freedom of expression is everyone’s right. Let us use that freedom of speech to preach unity and help fight corruption. Empty rhetoric will not help anything,” the President said.

Uhuru described the late Rubia as a selfless leader who “gave his all in the fight for justice and social order.”

The President underscored Rubia’s vision to enhance peace, justice, good social order, and hard work. He added that the country would be totally different if only half of Kenyans emulated what the veteran stood for.

“We are not fighting for freedom but the many social ills affecting our people. We want Kenyans to support us tackle corruption, tribalism and many other issues so that we can leave a better legacy,” the President told politicians.

“Mheshimiwa, don’t think that I am attacking you,” Uhuru said in reference to MP Alice Wahome, who had spoken before him.

Earlier, the Kandara MP, a key ally of Deputy President William Ruto, launched a scathing attack at Uhuru’s leadership whom he challenged to uphold the democratic space fought for by multi-party democracy fighters.


“Let us fight to protect the democratic space that we acquired through multi-partyism. Let us expand the democratic space,” Wahome had said.

Wahome, a vocal Tangatanga member, had said that many leaders have complained of receiving threats over their political stance.

But the President affirmed that the freedom acquired through the second liberation is fully guarded and any Kenyan has the right to express themselves as they wish.

 “No one is prohibited from saying what they want. They can shout and say anything. My plea is to use the freedom to spread peace and unity among Kenyans, fight corruption and seek justice, then we can say that we are fighting for the legacy that was left by the veterans,” the President said.

In demonstrating that his regime had not clamped down on free speech, Uhuru hinted that his government would allow the return of exiled lawyer Miguna Miguna.

“I have heard that some people are now planning to fly into the country. Let them come because that is their freedom,” Uhuru said of Miguna’s planned return into the country after two years in exile.

The lawyer, initially associated with opposition chief Raila Odinga’s NASA outfit and was the lead strategist of the National Resistance Movement, was forced into exile in Canada in March, 2018.

This was after he ‘swore in’ the ODM leader as the people’s president in Uhuru Park.

Miguna has been firing salvos from Toronto accusing Uhuru and Raila of killing democracy by trying to entrench dynasty politics.

During Rubia’s burial, Raila, in a message read to the mourners by Siaya Senator James Orengo, described the fallen political and business giant as a “towering” multi-party democracy fighter.

ODM leader Raila Odinga said he had lost a friend and comrade.

He said Rubia took on daunting tasks and pursued them with great conviction.

“I worked closely with Rubia in some of the most trying times in the country. He had firm principles that he was ready to defend,” he said.

“He (Rubia) selflessly fought for the restoration of multi-party democracy, a project in which we worked together but which nearly cost his life,” the opposition leader added.

Raila who was not present during the burial said Rubia had firm principles of which he asked Kenyans to emulate as they fight corruption and entrench democracy.

Uhuru pointed out that Murang’a county used to lend money to the national government through the then county council.

  “Murang’a County council, under the leadership of the elders had so much money that it invested in the national government. Where is that money now?” he wondered.

“I hear leaders asking the government to help them do this or that, where did all that money go? We do not like to ask ourselves these questions. The money is in an individual’s pockets.” 

He said his government is intent on fighting corruption and other evils that hinder the country from moving forward and asked for Kenyans’ co-operation.

The President said he grew up together with Rubia’s family and pledged to continue supporting it.

“We are here to mourn Rubia but also to celebrate the time that God has given him and the way he has served the country selflessly,” he said.

Orengo said, to remember what Rubia stood for, Kenyans should take stock of what they should do to make the country a nation of patriots.

“I am pleading with Kenyans, we can talk about politics and the constitution. Many countries have made experiments. What the President has come up with is for Kenyans to discuss.  Please let us discuss this.  Kenya is bigger than all of us,” Orengo said.

He said the Building Bridges Initiative report is about creating a system that works for all Kenyans and is not about who rises to power.

“Kenya is bigger than any one of us. The last time I checked, you were not concerned about who will ascend to power but creating a system that works. Be confident that the people of Kenya are right behind you,” he said.

Orengo, who is also the Senate minority leader, reminded the people of Central Kenya that a political alliance with Raila would be ideal for the country.

“Murang’a is a great county and it is at the heart and together the people of the mountain can work with the people of the lake to make this country great,” the Siaya senator said.